Saturday, September 17, 2011

Story of Our Miraculous Journey to Our Son

The Raney Family

On Monday, July 25, 2011 the nursery was finally finished. My Aunt Judith Ann put the finishing touches with the custom made bedding by her. As we walked out of the nursery together, my mom told God that we were ready for a baby. Earlier that day one of my closest friends, Laurin, came over to my house and made us do preparation work for the new school year. We went shopping for school stuff and got busy preparing. We met early that morning and finished by 6 that evening. I so did not want to do school stuff, but in the end I was glad she made me. We make such a great team!

The next day Tuesday, July 26, 2011 my Aunt Vicki, my sweet cousin Erin, and her daughter, Ella Kate, came up from Jackson, MS to stay with us for a few days. Erin and Ella Kate were going to stay at my house. I told Erin not to set up the pack and play because I wanted Ella Kate to sleep in the crib to christen it in hopes that that would make my baby come faster. 

The very next morning (after the first night of Ella Kate sleeping in the crib) Wednesday, July 27, 2011 Erin and I played with Ella Kate watching Baby Einstein. My aunt who was staying with my parents next door, came over to play with Ella Kate also. Lee told us goodbye as he left for work.  5 minutes after he left, he and my mom walked in the house. I started to laugh and asked him what he forgot. He told me that we have a possible match and need to call our adoption specialist back. I didn't understand what he was telling me. Then I saw his surprised and anxious face and mom's excited face. It hit me what was going on. Then I thought about what he said "possible match." Did that mean that there was another adoptive couple besides us that this birth mother was looking at. We all sat down quietly and put the phone on speaker. We listened to the specialist as she told us about the birth mother. She 18 years old, very smart, and mature for her age who made a mistake one night. (And I thought a mistake that I am grateful for). She told us that the birth mother hid her pregnancy from her family until two weeks ago, and that the baby is due August 11th! Her doctors did many tests to make sure that the baby was okay since she did not get any prenatal care. The baby was very healthy. The doctors did not know the sex yet because the baby wouldn't show his privates!!! We all looked at each other and laughed. It was unbelievable! Could this really be happening? We were still in shock as we listened to the specialist. She told us that the birth mother chose us because I was a teacher, adopted, and look very similar to her. She also loved how it was so apparent that Lee and I are best friends and have fun with each other. I started to cry and could not believe that our baby was only a couple weeks away. 

When we got off the phone, we all looked at each other in shock, awe, and amazement. We all hugged each other and started to cry. My husband wanted to wait to tell everyone until it was a done deal. Well, that didn't take long. 5 minutes after we got off the phone, we all started to make calls. I first called Laurin because when she first found out she was pregnant this past spring, she was nervous about telling me. We are close and she knows how long I've been waiting for my baby. She kept telling me that she knows that my baby was coming this year. So when I called her and told her, she started to cry and said I told you so! We both cried with joy on the phone. All day phone calls were coming in and going out. My cousin and I decided to shop that day. Because I was getting so many calls and texts she wouldn't let me drive my car. It was insane!!!!!! 

The next night, Thursday, July 28, 2011, Lee and I did a face to face video meeting with the birth mother over ichat. She was right, she could have passed for my little sister. She was so sweet and precious. She told us that she is 5ft8in tall. She is very athletic, and graduated with a high GPA from high school! What great genes Lucas has! One of her favorite sports is volleyball. I guess you can say that is her forte. 
Ashby sent this to me a week after Lucas was born. That's right.
She played in a volleyball game a week after my baby was born!
Doesn't she look great!

I took to her right away. She told us that we were going to have a little boy! Lee nearly jumped out of his chair in excitement. I was so excited to have a baby that I wasn't disappointed. She scared. What do you do with boys? After we got off the chat, Lee and I walked over to our parents' house where they along with my Aunt Vicki, Cousins Erin and Ella Kate, Uncle Tony, and Aunt Judith Ann were. To announce the sex of the baby, we put one of BoBae's University of Memphis Tiger shirt into a baby gift bag. We had mom go sit by dad, and dad opened the bag--and was so happy to find out that he was going to have another grandson. We immediately told everyone that his name was going to be Lucas Thomas Raney. Lee liked that name so that he could call him L.T. and it would look great on a football jersey. Couple days later we had changed his name to Dustin Lucas Raney. Dustin was the name of Lee's and my nephew who died 11 years prior just after his 16th birthday. 

On that following Monday, August 1, 2011 it was inservice week for us teachers. From Monday through Thursday, I worked my butt off trying to get my room ready for the beginning of the school year. My friend and team mate, Laurin, also completed our maternity sub notebook because she was expecting her first in December. On Thursday, August 4, 2011 Laurin and I worked fast and furious to get our rooms finished up. We didn't want to come back the next day after a half day of seminar at Bellevue. Just in case I even did a detailed right up on what to do on the very first day of school for my sub just in case. But Lucas was not due for another week, so I fully expected to be there on the first day of school. We both got done about 4:30 that afternoon. We felt so good about ourselves. (Well, at least I did) I came home took a warm, hot bath. Laurin had also brought two boxes full of baby boy's clothes and shoes. After washing them in dreft, I took them over to my parents' house to show them. 5 minutes later, I got a call from my adoption specialist. The birthmother was about to be induced because she had preclampsia. The baby was coming soon! For couple of hours we all ran around crazy packing stuff up for our trip to Atlanta. Dad had surgery a couple of days before on his leg. He was so sore, but he trudged on and got ready to go out of town. I had already had gotten a car seat, but I did not have a base. I called my best friend, Tiffany, and she got up that night (right before Babies R Us closed) and got us a base. She gave us a quick tutorial on how to but the base in the car and the car seat in the base. That whole entire time I was going crazy with excitement and nervousness. I talked to  the birthmother's mom, and she said that everything was going okay, and that the doctor's were not going to induce until 9pm that night. We told her that we were on our way. My mom had her cousin and close friend to watch our dogs and cats while we were going to be gone. We left our house that night at 9pm. Even though we were so sad to leave our dogs, we were excited because the next time we walked into the house, Lee and I were going to walk into it as a family for the first time.

We arrived in Atlanta on August 5, 2011 at 5:30am eastern time. Traffic was horrible so early in the morning. We found a Hampton Inn not too far from the hospital where the birth mother was. We called the birthmother's mom to let her know that we made it to the hotel. We planned on meeting that afternoon. Yup! We could have gotten some sleep and left early on Friday morning. Oh well!

We all went to the hospital that afternoon. Mom and Dad waited in the lobby. While waiting for the elevator, someone called out my name. It was the birthmother's mom. Her husband recognized me (who was in the lobby on a phone call) and told her that we were here. When we got to the door of the room, I noticed this picture:

She told me that it meant that the baby was up for adoption so that the family did not have to explain to the rotating nurses and doctors each time. I got choked up. It finally hit me what was going on . I heard screaming in the room and we realized that she was just given the epidural. When we walked in, I carefully walked up to her and started crying. There was this beautiful young girl who was about to make an unselfish decision so that her baby could grow up with the attention, love, and finances needed. I carefully gave her a hug, and before I could tell her thank you, she thanked me! I was so surprised. I told her that I was not to be thanked, but that I have been waiting for this baby for so long that my gratitude towards her was overwhelming.

The original hospital plan was for us to be in the room during the delivery, and after the delivery Lucas was going to be moved to a nursery in another wing of the hospital. The hospital was going to give us a room to stay in so that Lucas could come in there with us. But since the hospital plan changed. The birthmother has the right to change her mind up until the time she relinquishes custody. During the delivery Lee and I waited in the private waiting area right next to the delivery room. I was a nervous wreck. We talked with the birth family (the birth mother's sister, step father, best friend, and her mom- when she wasn't in the room with the birth mother). According to the family, her getting pregnant brought shame to the family. Besides these 4 people nobody else knew she was pregnant-not even her boyfriend. She was able to hide it very well. Her mom told her to tell her boyfriend that she contracted mono, and because her boyfriend's sister just had a baby and was staying with them for a while, she knew his mom wouldn't let her hang around him. The birthmother's parents decided to not let her brother know as well who was in college in New Orleans. Even though this pregnancy brought shame to the family, they still truly love her and stood by her every step of the way since they found out about the pregnancy two weeks prior. We could tell they were a close knit loving family. Her family could have very well taken care of this baby. They definitely had the money and a stable home, but they wanted the birthmother to not be judged by other people and wanted her to experience the college life and start over. Her parents told us that the adoption agency gave them a list of adoptive parents that matched the birthmother's wants. Her parents and she decided to look at the profiles separately each on their own and choose 1. Then they were going to come together to see who they chose. When they each narrowed down to 1 adoptive parents, they came together. They had all chosen the same family--US! I truly believe that God had spoken to them and showed them that we are the perfect parents for Lucas. As we sat in the room waiting for Lucas's arrival, we got to know her family, and I fell in love with them.

At 8:58pm eastern time zone on August 5, 2011 our precious son was born. As soon as I heard his scream, I lost it and began to cry hysterically in my mom's arms. We had waited so long for this precious baby, and he was finally here. It was so hard to show our emotions because even though we were joyful, her family was heart broken. I thought we were going to go in the room to meet our son, but everything was not what we thought it was going to be. We had to wait a couple of hours before we got to see him. In the mean time, the birthmother's family were in there with the birthmother and the baby. All we got were pictures being texted to us by the birth mother's mom. It was weird and hurtful. we didn't understand why we had to wait, but I just had to remember that Lucas will be with us forever. They needed this time.                                   
Our miracle and long awaited answer to our prayers!
Dustin Lucas Raney
Born on Friday, August 5, 2011 at 8:58pm (eastern time)
19" long

His first prayers- "Please God let me meet my mommy and daddy."

After a couple of hours, we got to meet our son. Before looking at him, I went to the birth mother and gave her a hug and once again we cried together. I didn't want her to think that I didn't care about her, but only cared about the baby. As soon as we saw our baby, Lee and I instantly fell in love with him. 
Lucas meeting daddy for the first time.
When we found out that the birthmother wanted to keep him in her room until the discharge day (in two days), we were so upset and terrified about losing him!!! I now had to put my faith in God. There were too many little things that happened leading up to this day for her to change her mind. We had to trust in God that He knew everything was going to be okay.

That night I got to be the first one to feed him and change him. NOBODY told us that newborns pooped out black sludge and slime. All my friend Tiffany said sticky stuff. It was sticky! It was slimely and black sludgy. It freaked me out. I think I used a gazillion wipes and ended up getting my mom to help me. I hated doing all that in front of the birth family because I felt like I was on stage. But I didn't care, I was holding this precious miracle. 

The hole in my heart is finally filled with this bundle of joy.
Look I'm glowing!!! 
I was in awe of this precious miracle.

Our parents came in after a bit to meet their grandson. (Side note: this adoption could not have taken place without our parents' emotional and financial support. They love us so much and felt our pain of wanting a child more than anything that they paid for this adoption. Thank you mama and daddy for your sacrifice. Love ya'll so much!)

When we left the hospital after midnight that night, I felt horrible! I wanted to stay there with him, but I had to remind myself, I have the rest of my life with him. The birth family only had 48 hours, but never the less it was still difficult. I had been waiting for him for a long long time.

That night we went to Waffle House for our very late dinner. We were all emotionally and physically exhausted.

I got a call from the birthmother's mom the very next morning. She was giving me an update on the birthmother and Lucas. She then told me that the birthmother was having a hard time. She said that right after Lucas was born the doctor asked her if she was sure if she wanted to hold the baby. She said yes. The doctor asked her what she wanted to do, and that's when the birth mother had changed the plan and decided to keep Lucas in her room. So we could not get a room in the hospital. We had to be treated as visitors. The birthmother's mom said that her daughter was afraid that I would not want to keep them posted about the baby. She had already grown attached to him. (My thoughts were of course she did! He was in the room and they were bonding!) Her mom told me that when they were signing the adoption paperwork, they originally put that they wanted a closed adoption. They didn't want any contact with us and didn't want to hear about Lucas. But since the birth they changed their mind. My heart leaped into my throat and I thought oh my gosh! they are changing their minds. I told her that I would like to come to the hospital and talk to the birth mother privately with nobody there. After I got off the phone, I had no idea what I was going to say to the birth mother so I prayed. I told Lee and my parents what just happened. They were not happy. This was already emotionally stressful. THis was especially hard on my parents. THey didn't understand and didn't think it was fair that we were not getting any say. That we had no support system there from the agency. Even though I agreed with them in my heart, but I also felt for the birth mother. I wanted her to get closure, and thought that if she wanted to change her mind, I would rather her do it now at the hospital rather than on the ninth day (after the mom relinquishes her rights from the hospital she has 10 days to change her mind). We were all stressed and at our wits end. My mom cried from the moment she woke up that day until she went to bed that night. You see she had lost her only grandson 11 years ago. Even though no baby will ever replace Dusty, she would finally get peace and renewed happiness with this grandbaby. She had been waiting for so long for a grand child, and was so close in finally getting one but was terrified that he would be taken away. It would be like another death to her. My heart broke for my mama.

When I got to the hospital, Lee and the birthmother’s mom went down to the lobby while I talked to her. I had prayed to God to give me the right words to say to her. (Side note: after the phone conversation with her mom that morning, I texted all my friends and told them to get down on their knees and pray and spread the word. I needed the power of prayer from everybody). When I went in her room, I went to Lucas and held and loved on him. Then I handed him over to his birth mother and told her that I wanted her to hold him while she listened to my story. Why? I don’t know but I believe God was telling me to do that. Unbelievably God was telling me to tell her a condensed version of my childhood and about my adoption—which is a horrible story. I didn’t go into detail, but God gave me the words to say to her. I knew that in my heart after my story it could go either way—I could scare her to death and she would change her mind or she would feel confident about her decision. I wanted her to know that because of my childhood experience, I was going to be a wonderful mother. Lucas was going to grow up in the most loving home with wonderful family and friends surrounding him. And that most importantly I don’t want Lucas growing up resenting his birthmother for giving him up. I want him to have the closure and knowledge that he was loved and is still loved by his birth family. There was no way I was not going to keep in contact with her for Lucas’s sake.  After I finished my story, we both cried and I sat next to her on the bed and held her while she held Lucas. I told her that I will always love her and she will have a special place in my heart. She told me that she loved me too and that she is very happy with her decision and is no longer uncertain. Lee and the birthmother's mom came back in, and we stayed several hours laughing and cutting up. Despite the emotional stress, we had a great time. 
Day 2

Lee kept us entertained. 

Looking at the birth mother
Look at the difference from day 1 and day 2 pictures of Lucas. My how they change fast!!!
Couple hours after birth

Day 2

The next day was the birthmother’s last day with Lucas. She was going to be discharged at the end of the day. I received a phone call from her adoption specialist who told us that the attorney would be at the hospital sometime that day to talk to the birth mother and to sign relinquishing papers. She said that the birthmother had until midnight that night to leave the hospital. Of course we were upset with that. Why would they prolong the inevitable? The longer they are with him the harder it was going to be!

The birth mother’s mom called me that morning and said that they wanted to spend time with Lee and me before the attorney got there. When we walked into the room, the birth mother and her mom began to cry hysterically. She was holding Lucas as if we were about to take him away. A horrible feeling hit my guts. I once again texted my friends to pray. Once they both calmed down, we just talked about whatever. Lee was being his funny self to melt the tension in the room. And it worked until the attorney walked in. Then the birthmother, her mom, and step dad started to cry. I felt so fearful and like a bad person, so I started to cry. The attorney explained that she use to be a counselor as well, and before they sign papers she was going to talk to the birth family without us present. She also said that she does not recommend them waiting until midnight. The sooner they leave, the easier it will be so that the healing process could begin. Lee and I went downstairs to the lobby to wait for the attorney to come get us. In the mean time we called mom and dad to come for support. We thought the conversation was not going to be that long, but we were wrong. After a couple of hours the attorney came down. She said that they were not quite finished. She counseled the birth family and talked to them. She wanted the birth mother and her parents to really think about what she was doing. She wanted them to make sure they were certain of their decision. She told them about the loss that they would feel. She reminded them of what they were going to miss out on- his first words, when he takes his first steps, first day of school....many firsts, and what she was giving up--to be his mommy. She told them that she really wanted them to think about and discuss with each other and take a second look at this adoption. Did they really want to do this? Then she left the room for almost an hour. When she came back to the room, they were no longer hysterical. They were calm and looked at peace. The attorney told us that she was doing this because she would rather them change their minds at the hospital rather than later for our sake. After a while we went back to her room. We took some pictures, and went over discharge paperwork. The nurse gave me last minute instructions--how to treat the circumcision and umbillical cord. And then it was time. 
Two mothers forever bonded together

Beautiful birthmother- Ashby

What happened next is something that my family and I don't ever want to experience again. The birth mother had Lucas in her arms while the nurse helped her into her wheel chair. We all went downstairs to the garage. Both my dad and her dad went to get the cars. When the cars pulled up, everyone was crying very hard. I have never seen such pain and loss on someone's face like I did that night. I have never felt so guilty and horrible. I felt like I was ripping her heart out. She stood up and handed me Lucas and begged me to please not to forget her. I held her and said that I would never ever forget her and what she has done for our family. I told her that Lucas will always know that they love him. My mom went to her mom and hugged her and said thank you. The way my mom held her just broke my heart. That was so hard for all of us, I can't imagine how hard it was for them. We will always be grateful for what they did for us. Our dreams finally came true because of them. Lee and I had our precious son after all these years because of them. Lucas became our heart, our life, and our breath. He brought never ending light into our family. I can't believe how perfect and beautiful our son is. 

Here is God's miracle at work:
       1. Monday, July 25, 2011 Laurin made me do beginning of the school prep work from morning until that evening. We finally got done around 6pm. 
       2. Monday, July 25,2011 (after my friend Laurin left my house) Finally completed the nursery with final beautiful piece- the bedding made by my aunt. My mom said to God now that the nursery was done, we were ready for the baby whenever He was. 
       3. Tuesday, July 26, 2011 my Aunt Vicki, cousin Erin, and her daughter Ella Kate arrived from Jackson, MS to spend a few days with us. I told Erin that I wanted Ella Kate to sleep in the crib to christen it in hopes to bring about my baby sooner. 
       4. Wednesday, July 27, 2011 8:30 am-- Erin, Aunt Vicki, and I are watching Ella Kate play with her toys in the den. Lee just left for work. 5 minutes after he left, he comes right back in with mom. He announces to everyone that we got the call for a match. (Umm....that would be God and Ella Kate sleeping in the crib)
       5. August 5, 2011 Lucas's birth date. Exactly a year ago Lee and I received devastating news that the invitro did not work. The two embryos that were implanted in me had died and were not strong enough. My heart was broken. I wanted a baby more than anything. Exactly a year later my heart was completely repaired and God said to me, "See! I told you to be patient for I have had this plan for you and Lee for this precious baby boy." 
      6. August 17, 2011 -- End of the 10 day period that the birth mother had to change her mind. It is also the birth date of Dustin Lee's and my nephew who had passed away 11 years ago who is Lucas's name sake. 
*************I can go on and on and on. If people want to know if God really exists, um...tell them this story. Last spring of this year, a friend of mine got the call from her agency that there was a match for a baby. A coworker and also a friend came up to me and made sure that I was okay. I told her that I was doing great and surprisingly was at peace and excited for Ashley. My friend, Jennifer C, said that my baby is coming. God has a plan for us and our baby. She said that who knows a young girl out there may be pregnant with our baby. Sure enough when Ashley and Patrick were meeting their baby for the first time, there WAS a young girl out there 5 months pregnant with our baby. God definitely works in mysterious ways! 

We had to stay in Atlanta until the ICPC paperwork signed and okayed by the judge. We stayed until Friday, August 12th. It was a long week. We all wanted to go back home. All 4 and 1/2 of us stayed in one room. It was crowded, but we had fun eating junk food and playing with Lucas. (Side note: I was soooo ready to go home. I missed my dogs and cats, and to me Atlanta represented emotional stress and anxiety. It should have been a wonderful memory of getting our son, but there were so many times that we were not sure if Lucas was going to come home with us. I just wanted to get my baby and get far away from Atlanta as possible).

Lee's first feeding

Lucas looking at his daddy, and daddy looking at his son adoringly. 

Look at those cute slippers. His feet are so big compared to the rest of him that the slippers fit!!! Quite funny :)

My baby and I napping
....and sleeping together at night. What? He slept better with me than in his gigantic moses basket.
My baby 3 days old. 
We all took turns at night to get up with him. We were all so exhausted.
Mom's shift during the wee hours of the morning

 Lee was a nervous wreck. Every noise or movement Lucas made Lee was right there to check on him. He slept the least of all that week. He was such a protective daddy ready to protect that baby from anything and everything. Lee never left his side even when Lucas was sun bathing to help against his jaundice.
Sun bathing time!

indoor sun bathing time

On Monday, August 8th we took Lucas to his first appt with the pediatrician.
Barely 3 days old- getting ready to go see the pediatrician 
Since we were not familiar with Atlanta and the doctors, Lee called the first pediatrician who could see us the day after his discharge date- as recommended by the doctor--due to his low weight (his discharge weight was 5.9 lbs)  and jaundice. Before we saw the doctor, the nurse took his weight. Lucas's weight had gone down from 5.9 to 5.82 lbs. He was not doing very well with his formula. The doctor was a nightmare. She never once looked at Lucas. She didn't even look at his paperwork. We told her that Lucas was having trouble keeping his Gerber formula down. I asked if I could change it to similac. She said sure. That was it. The similac for sensitive stomach did not work. He was projectile vomiting all night and through the next day. We called the attorney and asked her if she recommended any pediatricians in our area. On Wednesday, we went to Dr. Abram. He was wonderful! He examined him, held him, and talked to him. He also put Lucas on Nutramigen. He took to the formula better!

Ashby, his birthmother, wanted to see Lucas one last time before we left for Memphis. After our appointment with Dr. Abram, we met with Ashby and her mom at chik fi a (side note: Ashby is obsessed with Chik Fil A. Her mom said that she always has the number 5 nugget combo. If she could Ashby would eat it from breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Lee and I were sick to our stomach nervous about what could happen. We didn't know if she would change her mind or cry hysterically over him. We didn't know what to expect. But it ended up nice! They held Lucas and no tears ever fell :) We had a nice time.

After we left Chik Fil A, Lee's cousin Angela who lives in Atlanta came to visit us at the hotel. She offered us to stay at her house, but my mom did not want to intrude especially with a new baby.
Cousin Angela

The night before we left Atlanta, we went to a really nice italian restaurant- Maggiano's. Yes we took Lucas. There was a couple there with a 6 month old baby sitting next to us. The mother is a geneticist and the father is a neuro surgeon. The surgeon showed me how I can tell if Lucas was dehydrated. If his soft spot was indented that means he's dehydrated. He said that Lucas's head is a perfect shape. The geneticist asked to look at Lucas. She said that Lucas was absolutely perfect in every way. I wanted to say duh!!! I know!!! :)
At Maggiano's

Our departure day has arrived!!!!!!! On August 12th we left early that morning to head to Memphis.
Daddy and Lucas waiting for the rest of us to finish packing up to go home.
The ladies at Hampton Inn were so nice to us! They all fell in love with little Lucas.
Anything that we needed they got it for us.
This is Pam telling us goodbye.

Lucas is ready to go home!
We had to stop several times to soothe a screaming baby. He did not like being confined. But he did pretty good though. 
Are we there yet? 
Look at those little legs!

When we drove up to our house, this is what welcomed us!

Decorated by my friend and Lucas's godmother- Tiffany

Bow on the mailbox by my friend Laurin--she really drove wayyyy out of the way to put one there!

Lucas meeting his furry family members. Zoe and BoBae were so excited to see us and curious about the little bundle daddy is holding.
Zoe and BoBae investigating

Cody finally came around and noticed the pink thing on that noisy chair thingy.

Mom and Dad's dog, Izzy (half beagle and half lab), is so good to Lucas. I think she thinks she is his mother. Every time he cries she goes to him and comforts him by either licking his face or putting her head on his tummy. She will also get in between Lucas and a stranger to protect him. She loves her little Lucas.

The day after we arrived, our friends came over to meet Lucas. 

Laurin is holding Lucas while the girls are helping to feed Lucas. 

Lucas examining Ali

Seriously! Who is this?

Caleb and Qua spending time with Lucas

Ali and Lucas

Ainsley wondering why her mama is holding somebody else's baby

Kizzy holding Lucas while Ali is being loved on by little Lauren and Ainsley

Kizzy and Lucas

Ainsley puckering up to give kisses to Lucas


Ainsley had fun with my bracelet

Laurin practicing feeding --her baby girl is due in December! 

Laurin and little Lauren posing

Oops! I was suppose to burp him?

Ainsley helping to feed Lucas

Tete talking to Lucas

Lucas's "O" face

Then Lucas's god family came to spend time with Lucas!

His godmother, Tiffany with Bobae

His godfamily- Tiffany (godmother), Curtis (godfather), and Taylor (godsister)

Lucas's godsister, Taylor
Lucas's bassinet next to mommy's side of the bed-

This bassinet was made by Lucas's great grandmother. It was Lee's bassinet when he was a baby.
On the Monday after we got back from Atlanta (August 15th), I was getting Lucas ready for his doctor's appt. Lee asked me if I noticed something missing from my son. I said no. Then I looked at his belly button! His cord finally fell off! Then came the search for the cord and where it went. It was on the floor next to my side of the bed. I thought that was a leaf! Thank goodness the dogs didn't see it.
Finally a belly button!


Lucas's first bath after he lost is umbillical cord!
Ali was so sweet to let us borrow Ainsley's infant bath seat until I got mine at one of my showers. 

First bath was a whole family affair!

Lucas has his daddy's personality! He makes us laugh!!!
I call this the old man face

He sleeps like his daddy. 

Yup! Sound asleep

I love this face. 

Some more cute pictures of my baby boy!
My angel

A computer nerd like his daddy

I love that he loves his paci.

Long legs

Start of his cry. It's so cute!

And there it is. 
A couple of days after we got home from Atlanta, Ashby sent us a package via the agency.
She is a huge Braves fan so she sent this for Lucas.
I told Ashby that his daddy is a big Boston Red Sox fan. They will have to fight this battle without me :)

First Walk

When he's with mimi and papa, he's a rebel fan. When he's with mama and daddy, he's a memphis tiger fan. You think he will be confused?

My baby boy looking so fly!
Look at those two handsome boys! 

My tattoo of my son's name in my cursive writing. I chose a dove because it represents hope (and the holy spirit) . Hope  for my baby--We waited so long for this baby and hoped so much for him. Now we hope that he will grow up to reach his greatest potential and have a happy life. 

First time daddy is so exhausted!
Georgia's adoption law is very similar to Tennessee. The birth mother has 10 days to change her mind from the day the birth mother signs the relinquishing papers from the hospital right before she is discharged. Ashby signed the papers on Sunday, August 7th. The date of the 10th day was Wednesday, August 17th--which is Dustin's (Lee's and my nephew who passed away 11 years ago) birthday. Coincidence? I think not! It's another reminder from God showing us He was always in control. On this date every year, we go to the cemetary, and release red balloons. That was Dusty's favorite color. 

Dustin Raney Arnwine 1984-2000
11 years later Dustin Lucas Raney was born on August 5, 2011.
On this date Dusty was born, and Lucas officially became ours (well, paperwork won't be completed for 6 months, but his birth mother can't take him away from me :)

Happy birthday, Dusty!
Lucas's aunts (Lee's sisters) joined us on this special day. 
Aunt Lyn

Aunt Jan

What sweet aunts! (We ate at Patrick's after leaving the cemetary.

At 10:59pm central time (11:59 pm eastern time) we officially became a family.
It marked the end of the 10 day period.
                           God is so good!


  1. Awesome....awesome story with the best ending ever!!! Love you guys!!!

  2. A beautiful story! God is always in control and he is forever faithful to those who put their trust in him. You and Lee have been given the most awesome gift from God! I give him thanks and praise everyday for the blessings he has given us all. I love you, Doodah, and I love my precious great-nephew, Dustin Lucas Raney!!!!

  3. I know this is super late. This is the first time I've come across this blog. Dustin was one of my closest friends in high school. I think about him so often and still light a candle for him on his birthday every year. Your story and your son are so beautiful.